August 2019 Newsletter

We had Gary Rance with us for our July meeting.
Gary is a well known demonstrator who has been woodturning since he left school 44 years ago. He started off in a factory turning pepper mills and then moved on to another doing the same thing where to earn decent money they were turning basic mills ready to have the mechanism fitted in two minutes.
He started his day with a lesson in spindle turning describing the use of his tools as he turned a square block to round and then cut beads and coves such as you would find on a table leg or a standard lamp or even a four poster bed.
Next he put these exercises to use by turning his first project which was to be a humming top.
He turned a block of pine to round leaving a chucking spigot at one end. Once mounted in a chuck he turned the top end first with a string post in the same way you would turn the lid for a box.
When finished and sanded he parted it off leaving a small shoulder to fit back in to the “box” later.
Next he drilled two holes in the body opposite each other. These would create the hum but it’s best to drill them now and not when you have hollowed out the body.
This done he hollowed it out using a small bowl gouge and a box scraper but also showed how you can finish the sides with a skew chisel laid flat on its side.
Next he took it from the chuck and made a jam chuck to fit it on to so that he could finish the base with a small point for the top to spin on.
Gary then used a square file to shape the two small holes in the side with the leading and trailing edges tapering inwards at roughly 45 degrees. Then he glued the two parts together using Titebond 2. Now all that was left was to make the handle needed to support the top as you pulled on the string wound around the post to send it spinning on its way. What fun !!

On to project no 2 and this was, wait for it, drum roll, yep, a pepper mill. But this one was not your plain mill, it was to be shaped like a chess piece. To save time Gary had pre drilled the holes in the blank and taken the corners off making the blank a hexagonal shape. As the holes are a different diameter always start off with largest size and work down through the sizes as required depending on the type of mechanism you are going to fit. This was not to be a crush grind type. Gary’s demo was to turn the outside shape and it was back to his first lesson of turning beads and coves. He copied one he had made earlier having it as a guide to look at but also used a pin template to get the various shapes in the right place.
He started by turning the blank to round and roughly shaped it out. Because it was already drilled he had a jam chuck in the chuck and a revolving hollow centre in the tail stock so when it came to parting off the top it had to be done with great care.
Just hang on to your bits!! With the body finished Gary set the top up in the chuck and finished shaping that and hand filed the crenelations to create the chess piece.

Gary’s third piece was a pendant with a rotating centre.
He started off by turning a disc between centres with a convex curve to both sides and leaving the smallest spigot possible. The disc was then mounted in a split jig . He had two of these. One off centre and the other concentric. Both pendants had rotating centres. He first finished facing off the disc and then with a very fine bladed tool made from a stainless knife, you could make it from a hacksaw blade, it has to be narrow , he cut grooves at a 45 degree angle half way in to the disc.
He then reversed it in the chuck and faced it off and repeated the operation very carefully with the knife until he broke through, starting with the middle one and working out to the last groove.

For project no4 he turned a very attractive pomander using a banksia nut for the fragrance holder and laburnum for the top and bottom spindles. First the body. Mounted between centres he turned a chucking spigot on the banksia nut and turned the outside shape. Then he mounted it in the chuck and drilled a 25mm hole approximately 2/3 of the way in. Then with a Simon Hope hollowing tool he opened it out to a wall thickness of around 10mm. Gary then drilled a 10mm hole right through, sanded and polished the body and then parted it off.
Next he turned the top and bottom finials between centres, again creating a chucking spigot to aid parting off.
Doing the bottom one first it can be turned to any design you choose. Mount it in the chuck for the final touches and polishing and part off very slightly concave to ensure a good fit when glued on the body.
The top finial is made in the same way but before parting off drill a hole right through for the string to go through and a spigot to fit neatly in to the top of the body once you have filled it with your favourite smellies.

Still time to go Gary turned a small attractive box followed by a quick demo on how he learnt to sharpen his tools “before the days of all these fancy jigs”

Many thanks to Gary for a full and interesting day.

Dont forget that the next meeting 10th August is a club day. If anybody would like to take up position on the club lathe, please let it be known to one of the committee. or email